On Thursday Oct 25, Tony Castaneda interviewed Israeli-American author and peace activist, Miko Peled. He is the author of The General’s Son: The Journey of an Israeli in Palestine. Miko was born in Jerusalem into a well known Zionist family; his grandfather was a Zionist leader and signer of the Israeli declaration of independence, and his father was a war hero in the Israeli army.
He is currently on tour to talk about his book. Divided into two sections, the book is about both the author’s background, growing up as the son of a general in a patriotic family, and about the author’s journey through Palestine, and what he discovered from it, “the first part, the General’s Son part, is what seems to give credibility to the second part when I talk about my journey and what I’ve seen of the Palestinian communities.” Miko explains that, growing up in Jerusalem, because it is a very segregated city, he never actually got to know Palestinians until he came to the United States, when he was forty years old. Nevertheless, growing up, the attitudes and values imparted to Miko by his family made him sensitive to and aware of Palestinians and their situation.
Miko’s father, after serving in the Israeli military, dedicated his efforts towards peace-keeping and fighting for Palestinian rights. In 1948, when Israel offered Miko’s family a house to move into, Miko’s mother refused, knowing that Palestinians would need to be removed from the house in order for them to move in. Explains Miko, “this was during the war of 1948, my father was a young officer fighting for the Zionist cause… its interesting because there are neighborhoods in Western Jerusalem that were Palestinian. In 1948, Israeli forces came and kicked everyone out, and these are beautiful homes, well to-do families…and these neighborhoods were ‘cleansed’ by kicking [the Palestinians] out, and these beautiful homes were offered to Israeli families.” His mother refused to displace Palestinian families on principle.
Miko talks about the single-state plan, which calls for a democratic state which would treat both Israelis and Palestinians equally under one state, “As soon as the war was over, [Israel] began ethnically cleansing the West Bank, displacing hundreds of thousands of people…building homes, towns, roads for Israelis, only on Palestinian land. By that, the purpose of this was to make the conquest of the West Bank irreversible, so it becomes a part of Israel. So Israel in fact created one state: it is one state where you have Israelis who live under certain [democratic] laws, and Palestinians who live with no rights…who are almost half of the population. The only way to move forward, since Israel will never allow a Palestinian state to emerge, is to replace the state of Israel, just like apartheid was replaced, with a democracy. You can’t have a state for Jewish people when half the people are not Jewish.” When Tony raises the issue that many fear about the single-state plan, that the Palestinians would indeed be the majority in such a state, Miko rejects this fear as a racist notion. He views the single-state plan with optimism and explains that Israelis and Palestinians are very similar, including culturally, that the differences between the communities are small, and that they would indeed be able to coexist as a peaceful society.
When asked to compare the two current U.S. presidential candidates in regards to their policy towards Israel, Miko explains that there is no difference in that respect. He also addresses the notion of the American Jewish Diaspora being more conservative than the Jewish population, “there is a misleading impression here that the majority of the Jewish community in America is the Zionist community. Every pro-Palestinian event or organization that invites me, there is a very strong Jewish presence in all of these.”
Listen to the entire interview here: